David Soldani, the company's chief technology officer and a former Nokia tech chief, told Tuesday's summit that if the government did not use 5G fixed wireless to service areas where the NBN was in many cases proving to be slower than ADSL, it risked leaving hundreds of thousands of Australians waiting for bytes to be transferred over the network.
“As the completion of the national broadband network comes into view, it’s time to face a very simple fact: the NBN project has failed and Australians need to stop expecting NBN Co to deliver high-speed broadband to all Australians – it is just not going to happen,” he told delegates.
Soldani, who has been heavily involved in the process of planning the specifications for 5G, said that given there was no additional funding pledged to the network by either side of politics, those who were stuck on congested fixed-wireless connections and on fibre-to-the-node lines which had long lead-ins of copper had no chance of getting better service.
“In fact, the actual cost of the NBN is much more than that, given that reports suggest NBN Co is paying Telstra around $100 billion in subscriber migration and lease payments over the coming years.
“We have spent about $10,000 for every activated premises on the NBN fixed wireless network and yet hundreds of sites are only delivering 6Mbps or less at peak-time to end-users – worse speeds than many were getting on old ADSL services.”
The US has banned the use of Huawei equipment in its 5G networks. Australia followed suit last year, while New Zealand stopping one telco from rolling out a solution that included Huawei gear.
Soldani suggested using the Mobile Black Spot Program as a model and encouraging mobile network operators to extend regional networks and use that available spectrum to deliver 5G fixed wireless services to consumers.
“Alternatively, we could look to take a leaf out of what has been happening in Victoria where the state government and local councils have collaborated to deliver a contract to private operators to deliver high-speed fixed wireless services of up to 1Gbps to regional end-users," he added.
Soldani said it made little sense to allow NBN Co to move forward with 5G fixed wireless services given that the network’s problematic pricing model actively discouraged RSPs from even offering ultra-fast broadband – with the bulk of end-users opting for 50Mbps packages.
And if 5G fixed wireless was going to be the solution, then the best 5G technology should be used, he arghued. “It makes no sense for Australia to continue to exclude the world’s leading 5G technology provider from the marketplace.
“In the last couple of weeks alone Huawei has been the technology provider of choice to 5G launches from both EE in the UK and Vodafone in Spain – with plenty more to come in due course."
Huawei provided the radio access network for the EE network in the UK; the core was from other providers.
“The technology is already there to solve the challenges Australia is facing – there is no doubt about that – what we need now is for that technology to be allowed to do what it was designed to do and for our leaders to recognise that we need to adopt a different approach with regard to delivering universal high-speed broadband," Soldani said.